Diagnosed at Age 2: Grandma’s Trooper Tony

Following weeks of extremely wet diapers, thirst, and weight loss, on a Sunday afternoon in February 2013, Sharon’s two year old grandson, Tony, was rushed to the Emergency Room and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Six weeks later, little Tony started on a MiniMed Revel insulin pump. Diabetes has changed their family’s whole world, and as a grandmother, Sharon continues to learn as much as she can to help her daughter as an alternative caregiver. Here’s her story.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon on February 3, 2013 when we received a call that changed our family’s whole world – my daughter Jennifer and her husband were taking their 2 ½ year old, Tony, to the Emergency Room (ER). Racing to the hospital like we were in an Indy 500, thoughts of worry and concern flooded our minds, unsure of what to expect when we arrived at the hospital. Jennifer didn’t provide a whole lot of information, but the fear I heard in her voice said enough.

A few weeks prior, Jennifer had read 10 Signs of Type 1 Diabetes her friend had posted on Facebook, and started to notice Tony was showing three of the signs – excessive wetting, thirst, and weight loss. The night before his diagnosis, Tony stayed at our house and his wet diapers and thirst were extreme. We’d pour him a glass of milk, and by the time we put the gallon back into the fridge, his glass was empty and he wanted more. Within 15 minutes his diaper was so wet, it fell down to his ankles. Growing Jennifer’s concern, the next day, she tested Tony’s blood glucose level with a blood glucose (BG) meter, praying her instincts were wrong. She was right – his glucose levels were sky high.

Sitting in the ER, we tried to make sense of everything, but couldn’t. Were the doctors sure it was type 1 diabetes? Why and how did this precious little man get this forever life-altering disease? It just can’t be true. Our emotions took over with every word the doctor spoke. It was hard to comprehend exactly what his life would be like from that day forward. We had to get it together for little man Tony. The hospital stay will be short, and he’d be leaving the hospital in three days. WHAT? Only three short days to learn about a disease we knew little about and the management to keep precious Tony healthy and alive?

Since he was so small and extremely insulin sensitive, it was difficult to get a small enough dose into a syringe to administer him, so the endocrinologist put him on a fast track to start insulin pump therapy. Six weeks later, little Tony started pumping.

Fast-forward to today, one year and seven months later, Medtronic has been a life saver! I can’t imagine what managing Tony’s diabetes would be like without his insulin pump. Our Medtronic Diabetes Educator has been awesome since day one, educating us on type 1 diabetes and taking extra time to teach my daughter and her husband how to use the insulin pump. Tony wears his infusion set on his tiny rear end, because that’s where he has the most meat on his body, and you only have so much of an area to work with, given you can’t reuse an area until it has healed. Jennifer and her husband change out his infusion set over their lap, and recently found that Tony listening to a Laurie Berkner song on the headphones really helps distract him from the whole process.

Tony’s so smart, and has been AMAZING throughout everything he’s gone through in his little life this far, hence his nickname, “Trooper Tony”. When you tell him it’s time to test his BG, he’ll run to the chair and he’s ready. We’ll ask him which finger to prick, and he holds one up. At the age of three, he wants to help and knows the process. He’ll probably be testing himself in a year!

When Tony was diagnosed, I knew nothing about type 1 diabetes. As his grandmother, it was the best decision of my life to get educated. Attending all the classes and Tony’ doctor appointments with his mom and dad, I was like a sponge soaking it all in. Counting carbs in the grocery store, I think ‘what can Tony eat when he’s at my house?’ and take into account how much insulin I’ll need to bolus for him to cover any special treats he’s over.

Do I get nervous when I’m taking care of him? Absolutely! When I check him before lunch and he is 52, it scares the daylights out of me! I take a deep breath, give him 8 ounces of juice, check him again in 15 minutes, and proceed with counting his carbs and calculating his bolus insulin dose to cover his lunch. Whew!! I feel a personal sense of accomplishment learning how to care for my precious little Tony. I so enjoy every moment with him, and we have a bond that is so awesome, I can’t even describe it!

Type 1 diabetes is time, mind, and heart consuming every minute of every day. Having a child with diabetes isn’t easy – sleepless nights, gummy bears or juice at any hour during the night, waiting to recheck and ensure his number went up or down before going back to bed. Taking care of Tony gives me a small dose of my daughter and her husband’s world, and what they go through every day. I want to help them. I am their relief. I am their break. I am here for them.

Ton and Lenny Grandma and Tony

























– Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.

– Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps

– Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.

– Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

For more information, please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/importantsafetyinformation.

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